Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Book Review: Two From Francis Lincoln

I have two books for your delectation today, both are courtesy of review copies obtained from Francis Lincoln.

The Garden Anthology book cover
The Garden Anthology is Ursula Buchan's pick of the garden writing published by the RHS for more than a century.

I don't envy her the task as so much has been published by the RHS in The Garden (in all its forms) and other journals. Over 80 authors are featured, which in turn means a whole host of gardening topics are covered.

The pieces are bundled into 13 broad chapters which range from Seasons & the Weather through to Inside the RHS. In between there are plenty of plants, people, science and a number of different gardening styles.

In the International Dimension it's good to see George Forrest rubbing shoulders with Toby Musgrave, who both describe plant hunting and the flora of the Yunnan, but almost a century apart.

This is a wonderful celebration of garden writing, which lets the words loose on the page unfettered by images. Each chapter is colour coded so the reader doesn't get lost and to make up for the lack of photographs there is a liberal sprinkling of wonderfully jolly images courtesy of Jenny Bowers.

My only disappointment with the book is that The International Dimension chapter is more about the 'Englishman abroad'. These articles are great in themselves, but I feel the opportunity to include a different perspective on British gardening courtesy of writers from outside the UK has been lost (if such articles exist). However, that's a minor quibble.

This is a perfectly dippable book which has enriched my bedtime reading over the past few weeks.

By complete contrast Kitchen Garden Experts is a celebration of the collaboration between 20 chefs and their head gardeners at some of the UK's top restaurants.

I've had the good fortune to visit two of the establishments featured - The Pig last year and Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons last month. Both have been memorable occasions.

Each restaurant featured forms a chapter in the book which explains how the collaboration between chef and gardener works and explores their gardening and culinary secrets.

Different vegetables or fruits are featured per restaurant with extensive notes on growing for success and culminating with a signature dish to try at home.

There are plentiful good quality pictures to illustrate all aspects of the establishments, their produce and the dishes featured.

Whilst I can't fault the writing, the photography and the places featured, I've struggled with how to place this book in my gardening library. It's a hybrid volume, which is more about inspiration than practicality. Foodies will enjoy recreating the recipes from chefs who are at the top of their game and I now have a list of 18 restaurants which I just have to visit.
NB If you like the look of The Garden Anthology, Dave Marsden has a prize draw for a copy over at his blog, The Anxious Gardener.

Hurry, the closing date is on Friday (October 31st 2014) and applies to UK readers only (or those with access to a UK address).

Alternatively, I have a couple of offers available, one for each book as follows:

  • To order The Garden Anthology at the discounted price of £13.50 including p&p* (RRP: £16.99) telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG233.
  • To order Kitchen Garden Experts at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone or email as above and quote the offer code APG130.  

*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.


  1. They look lovely, especially the kitchen garden one.

    1. It's guaranteed to make you feel very hungry CJ ;)

  2. The Garden Anthology is the one I'd like to read. As I'm not a foodie I'll pass on the other one. Flighty xx

    1. Flighty - The Garden Anthology is right up your street :)


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